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December 2021

Elon Musk does the Babylon Bee: Part 2–Being Saved

(See Part 1)

As the Babylon Bee interview with Elon Musk winds down, the BB guys ask Musk their ten questions, which are like the Ten Commandments only not so important, one of them explains. No. They’re not. But they certainly are eclectic.

By far the most interesting to me is whether he had ever punched or been punched. He hesitated a few seconds—you had to hesitate in order to process any of the oddball questions. Then he said he had been raised in a very violent area and had been punched in the face many times. He added that ‘Whoever said that words sting more than blows had never been punched in the face.’

Why is this the most interesting response? Because of the obvious inferences you can draw about bouncing back from ill treatment. I wonder how those ne’er do wells who socked him are doing these days?

But it is the last question from the evangelical site that is the real zinger. Will they really screw up their courage to ask it? They do—and you have to admire them for it—even as you reflect that absolutely no groundwork has been laid.

“We're wondering if you could do us a quick solid and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? … Personal Lord and Savior. It's a quick prayer."

What in the world is Musk going to do with that question? It’s a complete nonsequitor  from anything they have been talking about in a one-hour interview. But that is true of any of the ten questions. Probably that’s why they asked the other nine—to loosen him up for this big one. Get him to answer the screwy nine, and anything is fair game.

Musk is a great guy and all—don’t get me wrong—but he plainly has no background to commit. And he knows it. You can’t just dive into something knowing nothing about it. Another of those ten oddball questions is, “if you could add a book to the Bible, what would it be?” Um—well maybe a 2nd Revelation, one that is more chipper and that tells how it all works out, he hedges, not knowing that the actual Revelation does just that. It is a quirky question from guys that run a quirky ministry and he is not quite sure what to do with it but presently responds in kind that ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ might do in case the guys have in mind an already existing book.

Jehovah’s Witnesses would ask that question too—not that one exactly, but one reasonably similar to it. But it would be asked only after considerable groundwork had been laid—groundwork which would take many months. It would involve a personal home Bible study. Otherwise, how meaningful can an answer to that question possibly be? You might fall this trap:

Said Jesus: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matt 7:21-23)

I mean, you have to know what you are getting into. If you don’t, how can you commit to doing “the will of my Father who is in the heavens?” You don’t even know what it is! Yet evangelicals ask this question all the time, convinced that the answer is meaningful.

If they ask it to me—will you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?—I will reply to the effect that I think I already have. But I hesitate to gush too much about it before these guys because I’m not quite sure of their own definition. Most of them think that Jesus is God. They buy into the trinity doctrine. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. Jesus is God’s Son, not God himself. Almost all of the Bible verses said to ‘prove’ the trinity would, if they were seen in any other context, be instantly dismissed as figure of speech.

They did ask it of me long ago, along with my two pals. Just out of high school, we piled in my car and took a week-long trip, camping as we went. B3B7B55D-8D0C-47D0-930A-B16D2CE8843AJust outside of Washington DC, a born-again character stumbled into our campsite and wanted to know if we’d accepted the Lord. No one actually had the nerve to tell him ‘Get Lost’—not even the inclination, since we did sort of respect him for what he was doing. Maybe we even thought that we should be more interested than we really were. But it was pure emotion, nothing particularly logical, which didn’t quite cut it by itself. We spent the rest of our trip composing and singing songs mocking him.

Of course, we were stupid kids. Musk is a grown man. He’s not going to go around mocking anybody—or at least not them. He likes these guys. He’s not opposed to the program. But neither is he a new foot soldier.

I give him a lot of credit. Upon processing the request, he allows how he “agree[s] with the principles that Jesus advocated. There's some great wisdom in the teachings of Jesus, and I agree with those teachings.” He mentions a few. "But hey,” he adds, “if Jesus is saving people, I mean, I won't stand in His way. Sure, I'll be saved. Why not?" Close enough, the guys seem to feel. It’s not an out and out bullseye, but it satisfied them. It’s consistent with what he said in 2020 after the Dragon Capsule successfully splash landed into the Gulf of Mexico—that he had prayed about that mission, even though he is “not very religious.”

“These are difficult times,” he said then, “when — you know, there's not that much good news — and I think this is one of those things that is universally good no matter where you are on planet Earth, this is a good thing, and I hope it brightens your day." 

To be continued:

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Tweeting the Meeting: Week of January 3, 2022

Samson’s choice of women was his ‘Achilles heel,’ the #midweekmeeting speaker says. ‘Terrible terrible choices’…’how could he be so dumb?’ The theme from that lead-off talk: ‘Betrayal—How Contemptible.’…1/2 #midweekmeeting

He did not say ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’ but he said as much in other words. …Delilah nagged Samson until he revealed his secret….2/2

Lug those city gates for 37 miles? The bro covering the review picks a town 37 miles from our #KingdomHall for illustration.

‘Zeroing in on the flaws of others may distract us from who the real enemy is,’ one sis says.

It’s one thing for Delilah to say ‘the Phillistines are upon you!’ three times but Samson never actually sees them because they are waiting in the wings than for him to chase them off three times, yet still tell his secret….1/2

I mean, that is some kind of stupid, and Judges 16 doesn’t actually say they fell upon him three times, only that he was told they were….2/2

And what about that old joke I once read in Mad Magazine: Samson gives final performance—brings down the house….Did young Johnny really used to bring in Mad Magazine encased in the Watchtower? Nonetheless, he grew up to be a fine bro.

One sis phrases her ‘Initial Call’ talk that ‘the Bible is a book of promises made and promises kept, as she introduces the video ‘Why Study the Bible.’   

Next is introduction to the video, ‘The Bible Saved Our Marriage.’ Worth doing whenever possible.  ‘We couldn’t communicate without it being an argument,’ the sis recalls. ‘It took a long time before things got better.’

God taking wheels off the chariots—I love that image at Exodus 14:25

“The apostle Paul expressed our conviction with these inspired words: “If God is for us, who will be against us?”​—Rom. 8:31.

A lasting image at Zechariah 2:8–‘Whoever touches you touches the pupil of my eye.’   ‘Something gets in your eye—you don’t wait a couple hours to deal with it,’ one bro says.

PETER: “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, . . . and earth and the works in it will be exposed.”​—2 Pet. 3:10.    I like the expression ‘will be exposed.’ It is exposed now as not having a clue on anything. Will be exposed as utterly powerless.

The chairman reads off next week’s assignments, and then: “oh—sorry. I think I have it one week off—give everyone heart failure.”

So many times in history have villains gone down by turning on each other.   “I will call for a sword against him on all my mountains,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Every man’s sword will be against his own brother” (Ezekiel 38:21). Can foreglimmerings not be seen today?

 

#Publictalk today is Do You have the Evangleizing Spirit?

The speaker today is a descendant of that great drywall family empire. I don’t think he is himself though. Let it never be said that the JW membership doesn’t include scads of builders—which does come in handy sometimes…1/2

I think it has always been that way. 2 timothy 2:15,   Do your it utmost as….a “workman” with nothing to be ashamed of. Christianity is at its core a ‘blue collar religion’ and branches out from there, never dishonoring its roots…2/2

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“If storm approaching, the speaker says, how many times does news report it?” Are you kidding me? It’s the only thing TV news is good at—reporting weather. That and shootings on an endless repeat loop. #IfItBleedsItLeads

 

#WatchtowerStudy: “What Does Jehovah’s Loyal Love Mean to You?”   theme scripture: “[Jehovah’s] loyal love endures forever.”​—PS. 136:1

Ha! That toddler chooses to REALLY SQUAWK while his mom is giving a comment. In a panic, his dad reaches for the mute button but them remembers his wife is speaking!

Para 4: “That description [loyal love] is mentioned six more times in the Bible. (Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2)”

What I notice is how often occasions arose that if he DIDN’T have loyal love he might have said, ‘Alright! I’m done! I’m outta here!’

Para 9: “Know that Jehovah will treat his loyal one in a special way; Jehovah will hear when I call to him.” Ps 4:3   Love the unworded music video for this one. I recall inviting a certain unknowing return visit to write a screenplay for it.

https://www.jw.org/en/library/videos/#en/mediaitems/VODBibleTeachings/pub-jwbcov_201605_11_VIDEO

Para 10: “The refrain [of Ps 136] “for his loyal love endures forever” assures us that God’s love for his people is not fickle.”   Yes. A repeating refrain would do that, wouldn’t it? Repeated 26 times!…1/2

There must be hundreds of songs from my childhood I used to hear on the radio. Few of them can I recall word for word. Yet none of them have I forgotten the refrain…..2/2

Para 12 reminds me of an Isaac Bashevis Singer short story of a Jewish priest so merciful that he could not bring himself to kill the sacrificial animals. Town life ground to a halt. Finally someone told him he didn’t have to be more merciful than God.

Para 13: “As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.” (Ps. 103:11, 12).  This is my son’s first Bible reading, deliverer eons ago. I can still see him working on the obvious gestures called for.

Para 17: “The prophet Jeremiah stated: “It is because of Jehovah’s loyal love that we have not come to our finish, for his mercies never end.” (Lam. 3:22)”

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Scrabble Games with My Brother (who cheats): What’s New?

Let’s keep up with all the latest Scrabble games. I’ll update this biweekly for every game. Should you like more, try my ebook ‘My Brother Does Nothing but Cheat.’ which throws in many an animal simile and even includes childhood pictures of my brother annoying me on purpose!

Okay, Here goes:

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All the cheating in the world (and he tried most of it) did not help my brother last night. 422 to 340. My brilliant two bingos easily crushed his pathetic single one and the fact that I drew the z, j, x, along with both blanks, had nothing to do with it!

Jehonadab said: “I had to look up that "ae." Never saw it before. I discovered not only is it playable, but so is its variant, "yae." And that could serve to get you out of a tough spot one day.”

“You don’t even know what ae means!” I charged my brother when he put it down. “I know you’ve used it,” he said.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Elon Musk Does the Babylon Bee: Part 1

The Babylon Bee has taken to embedding that interview with Elon Musk into their posts. As well they should—who would ever have thunk Musk would show up there for an interview? Apparently one of the BB crew had mused about what it would be like to interview Elon Musk, whereupon Elon Musk, who is a fan, contacted them. ‘You want to do an interview? I can do it Sunday.’

I watched it. I confess my opinion of him soared. [Get it? He’s a rocket guy. Ha ha ha] I had expected a guy with serious eccentricities. Instead, he is surprisingly (one more time—sorry:) ‘down to earth.’

I like it when people are uncomplicated. The BB guys were stumbling around—one of them fessed up how unqualified he felt to interview Musk, and seized upon, ‘Could H&R Block do his taxes?’ They easily could, was the unexpected reply. His finances are completely transparent. He stashes money nowhere, draws no salary, and “does not live a life of conspicuous consumption.”  His worth is all in his 20% stake of two companies that became huge. He does not ‘diversify.’ If Tesla and SpaceEx went bankrupt, he would too, immediately, and he stated his belief that it should be that way—if his investors suffered, he should too. And there were many times early on when the companies veered perilously close to bankruptcy.

He just wasn’t flakey as I anticipated he would be. He’s sending rockets into space, laying plans to colonize Mars, so you expect—I mean these guys are almost always this way—him to rhapsodize about the billions and billions of stars that just have to be home to brilliant aliens. Instead he says, “If anyone would know about evidence of aliens it would be me, and I’ve seen nothing.”

Probably he’s all swooning and agog over the trendy ‘metaverse’ to come, I figured. Instead, “I don’t know if I necessarily buy into all this metaverse stuff….It just sounds kind of buzzwordy.” And that neurolink that he speaks of implanting into people and it makes everyone think he’s a mad scientist? Oh—it makes perfect sense when he explains it. Even in the best person, the mind thinks at lightning speed. Computers and the internet operate at lightening speed. It is all hampered by the snail like interface: the speed at which we manually type. What if we could bypass that? But he’s not even thinking about regular people. He’s thinking of those impaired, like those with locked syndrome, fully alive in their head, but unable to move a muscle. “That ought to help a lot of people,” he says of his envisioned neurolink.

One of the guys brought up his online squabble with a senator (Elizabeth Warren). “She struck first,” he said. “She did actually call me a freeloader and a grifter who doesn’t pay taxes. I’m literally paying the most tax that any individual in history has ever paid this year, ever, and she doesn’t pay taxes, basically. And her taxes and salary is paid for by the taxpayer like me. If you could die by irony, she would be dead.” He told the senator, among other things, that she reminded him of his mom who used to periodically enter the family room to yell at him along with all his friends for no discernible reason.

He’s paying the most tax in history because he sold some Tesla shares to do so. Other than that—he draws no salary and doesn’t live high—“What am I supposed to do?” he says. “Do I send shares to the government? Unless I sell shares there is no actual mechanism to pay tax. So I said ‘should I sell 10% in order to pay tax?’ I asked Twitter and, on balance, they said yes.”

He had observations about humor too, and spoke of the “woke mind virus” that he thinks is spoiling it all. “Wokeness wants to make comedy illegal. … Do we want a humorless society that is simply rife with condemnation and hate, basically?” he asked. “At its heart, wokeness is divisive, exclusionary, and hateful. It basically gives mean people a shield to be cruel, armored in false virtue.” Works for me.

Seems to me the guy uses Twitter as diversion, as B.W. Shultz put it, a guy as old as time who has co-authored two volumes of the most exhaustive historical research out there on forces that shaped the early Bible students who later branded themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses, my people. Shultz likened Twitter to the background chatter of a coffee shop that you can follow with half an ear and participate in whenever you wish. Yeah. That makes three of us. I view it that way too.

All told, I’m not sure that Elon Musk fits into that seanburkeshow satire of the BBC science documentaries—the one that speaks of extremely hot places like the sun and extremely cold places like “the arse end of Jupiter,” before cutting to scenes of “the most massive entities in the universe, such as the egos of billionaires”—and there against a backdrop of stars is a superimposed Musk, Bezos, and Branson. I don’t think Musk belongs there. He just doesn’t strike me as a person of insufferable ego. The mock professor Burke, “dressed as a cool substitute teacher,” also has concerns about finding aliens, but they are not the same as Musk’s and he needs to down several beers in order to spill them. It’s a tiny bit crude, but survivable.

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At interview’s end the Babylon Bee guys ask Musk their ten questions, which are like the Ten Commandments only not so important one of them says. They ask them of every interviewee. They’re oddball questions, most of them, that take Musk by surprise as they would anyone. But Elon is cool, not wound up too tight, and he regroups. The final question—since the Babylon Bee is a ministry, its founder points out, is—will he really screw up his courage and ask it? Yes! He presses on: “We're wondering if you could do us a quick solid and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior? … Personal Lord and Savior. It's a quick prayer."

Just how does the richest man in the world deal with that one?

To be continued…

(Visit the SheepandGoats bookstore)

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Tweeting the Meeting: Week of December 27, 2021

#Publictalk: Why Fear the True God?  Everything is vanity—“has no lasting value” is Solomon’s conclusion of ordinary life, Eccles 12:13-14,

“The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole obligation of man.  For the true God will judge every deed, including every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.” Eccles 12:13-14

“The words of the wise are like oxgoads….like…embedded nails…As for anything besides these,…be warned: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.” Eccles 12:10….Surely this doesn’t mean MY books, which have many nails.

I well know that some are doing secret sin here on Zoom, sipping coffee. Would they do it at the Kingdom Hall? Well, maybe not SECRET sin, for they do it onscreen. It is only me who does it offscreen, like a whale sounding. One student was troubled by this. She may have a point…1/2

“Do you not have houses for eating and drinking?” says Paul. Yeah, and I’m in it. But I still begin to feel she has a point. Formal pants will be next….2/2

 

Do Not Give Up! is title of #watchtowerstudy

Theme verse: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine.”​—GAL. 6:9

Para 5: “Further, opposers may temporarily succeed in interfering with our efforts to carry out our ministry in the usual way.” (1 Cor. 16:9; 10)

Yeah. Especially if they are spiked opposers.

Para 6: the ‘work’ remembered, (Heb. 6:10) , ‘your labor’ not in vain (1 Cor 15:58), independent of results.

Para 11: God said: “You must go into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (Gen. 6:18)

No instructions for building guest rooms.

There you go sir. You’re room is #143, just down the hall past the hippo quarters.”  Nope. Noah didn’t have to say it. #NoGuestRoomsOnTheArk

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Huh. One sis relates how she was the teen sent to the door to get rid of the Witnesses & how she read the materials offered, they made sense to her, and she eventually become one

Para 14: Imagine that sis persevering in 1940s tough Quebec. “Over time, I was arrested 15 times. When we went out in field service, we made sure to carry our toothbrush and comb with us in case we had to spend the night in jail.”

Para 16: Yikes. The guys that dealt with the baggage:

“However, every bad and worthless man among those who had gone with David said: “Since they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we recovered…” (1 Samuel 30:22) Overruled, you #badandworthless men.

 

Not exactly a good start to this week’s #midweekmeeting’s Bible reading is it?

“Again the Israelites did what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes…”.  (Judges 13:1)

Frequent references to Samson this week due to our Bible reading. The dog, also named Samson, looks up quizzically from time to time. Our Samson is not the one who pushes apart the pillars. Our Samson pees on them.

The Philistines were the bad boys of the Hebrew Scriptures, says one bro,

 

These guys apparently do riddles like people today do Wheel of Fortune.…“Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.” (Judges 14:14)

Often looking into ancient culture reveals something that reads weird as all get out actually did happen back in the day.

Ha! Here is Jade thinking that meditation is ‘ooommmmmm.’ Not no more.

One local sis framed how some feel: ‘It’s not a cake until you mix the ingredients.’

Is the bro wearing a tie that suggests great rage is flaring up?

 

‘I’ve always wondered how these two came together—Abigail and Nabel,’ one bro says.

 

‘Who would want to make God angry?’ one sis says. ‘Not me.’

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Predators on Earth?

For a time, the Witness organization had a thing for Arnold Toynbee. (See para 2) There is a skit somewhere in the archives—was it presented at a District Convention?—in which a Witness teen quotes the historian’s words likening nationalism to a divisive scourge on the planet. Wasn’t it witnessing to her teacher, presenting a class project, explaining her non-participation in rah-rah politics, or something like that?

The intent was that the recipient would see the plain choice between human rule (which meant nationalism) and God’s rule (which meant the kingdom). Matthew 6:10 says: “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth.

Never did those brothers imagine a third choice would emerge. Never did they imagine that humans would see the shortfalls of nationalism and devise another human scheme to get around it. Never did they imagine a movement of “globalism” would emerge—a separate means of maintaining human rule.

It has emerged. And it is what fuels “conspiracy theories”— the suspicion that someone is doing end runs around their cherished national identities. Of course, it must be done by powerful persons—nobody ordinary would be able to pull it off. And it must be done clandestinely—the ordinary people would never allow it. Paul McCartney notwithstanding, the globalist movement does not wait for the broken-hearted people living on the earth to agree, for it knows they never will. People love their national sovereignties. So they must be bulldozed over.

Here the Breggin book stumbles, methinks, after getting so much right in a book that is very thorough and assiduously documented. I’m reminded of those Watchtower articles differentiating between knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The first is the accumulation of facts. The second is the application of those facts. The third is appreciating how all the parts fit together.

Breggin is just my chosen example—most of them do it. He doesn’t present current events as nationalism (popularism) versus another scheme of human rule. He presents it as present government versus underhanded schemes to scuttle it. Why does he do that? The globalists are “saving the world” in their eyes. They may be evil but are they more evil than those in the status quo? They are, he firmly believes, and in the context of a vaccine debate, they don’t fare well at all in his book. All systems of human rule give with one hand and take away with another. And, of course, he is completely unaware of the third choice, God’s kingdom, which is the only choice that can be trusted to do a “great reset.” Absent knowledge of the third option, one can rail against the great reset and lose sight of the truth that things really do need resetting—it is just that you can’t trust humans to do it.

He labels certain massive organizations of government and business, and even some individuals, as global predators, and “we are the prey.” Why does he do that? Rather than present how they are motivated by a quest for “wealth, self-aggrandizement, and power”—the phrase occurs at least a dozen times, in their eyes they are “saving the planet” from the scourge of nationalism that has consistently failed it—and now the back of that planet is up against a wall. People saving the planet are not going to saw off the branch they are sitting on. Given the self-interest that the world runs on, the only question to ask is to what degree will they fortify it?

At first glance—no, you don’t call them predators, because it implies their motive is to rip and tear solely for their own benefit. Though—at second glance—aren’t the very rulerships on earth likened to “beasts” in the Bible? (Daniel 7:17) Maybe predators is not so inappropriate after all. The beasts also issue high sounding statements of how their intention is only to benefit the people, but the Bible likens them to beasts all the same.

I was dubious—who would not be—at any claim that certain individuals, no matter how wealthy, could be on the same predator list that includes entire organizations. Had not this author watched too many James Bond movies? However just after President Trump discontinued US funding for WHO (World Health Organization) Bill Gates compensated. WHO promptly accommodated his interests and redefined ‘herd immunity’ to remove any concept of natural protection from exposure and make it only a goal achievable by vaccine. (see para 6)

For one man to substitute for the budget of an entire nation, and for one man to within a day reframe a century-old health definition—it is enough for me to concede why someone might put him on the list.

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)